|Katie Ball, a contract assistant, is the first student to complete one of our National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP) qualifications and said her studies and the qualification have empowered her. Here is how the qualification helped in her job and inspired her to pursue new career prospects.
While I don’t work exclusively in law, through my job as a Contracts Assistant I developed a real interest in Contract Law and Civil Litigation. As I became more exposed to these topics through my role, I wanted to develop my career and skill set further. The National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP) Level 4 Diploma in Paralegal Studies gave me a greater understanding and confidence in the work I was doing on a daily basis.
Within my job, I was responsible for a range of contract management matters, with Limited Company suppliers who provided IT services to our clients. I managed contracts for services, specifically contract negotiation for the UK and some international contracts.
Because my company appreciated and valued the work I produced, they agreed to pay for half of my qualification.
I did consider other routes, such as the GDL (I already have a degree) but it is a very expensive option and I needed to make sure it was 100% the right route for me. The GDL would also cost more of my time so I decided to choose a course that was more manageable. I also considered the CILEx Level 3 course, but I preferred the NALP course because I thought it gave a more well-rounded approach. At this stage, I just want to learn more about Law in relation to my job. NALP is well known and seemed like the obvious choice from the research I had conducted before making my final decision.
|When I started my studies, I had concerns about how I would fit studying around working full time because this isn’t something I had done before. For that reason, I set myself the goal of completing one module every six weeks and I created a timetable to complete my studies. However, when the pandemic hit, I ended up studying full time and managed to complete the course in 10 months.
Having flexibility with my studies was essential for me because it took off the pressure of having set deadlines. The tutors are fantastic as they get back to you quickly, so you can get on with your studies. I found it beneficial to be able to pick up my course as and when I wanted. If I could only do one hour in a study session, that was fine because I knew there would be another opportunity to make up for it.
When you apply for your assessment, you have 4 weeks to complete and submit it to the Law Training Centre for marking. There were occasions where I felt I didn’t need four weeks to complete an assessment and would finish them more quickly. I tried to set myself a personal deadline of 1 week to 10 days. I would certainly choose to study that way again.
There are a variety of resources available within Law Training Centre’s study portal including the NALP manual, quizzes, PowerPoint slides, and other reading material which was called ‘Chapter in Essence’. From the resources available, I found the NALP manual very useful. The quizzes were really good to test my general knowledge and make sure everything I’d learned had properly sunk in. I had a lot of contact with tutors when I was unsure of any specific topics within a module. They provided me with practice questions and they also kindly reviewed and provided their comments on my work, and any areas they felt I could improve. I found this very helpful. The plethora of information available means that the portal would be suitable for any type of learner and suit different learning styles.
There are several times where knowledge from studying the Level 4 Diploma assisted me in my role. For instance, we had a court claim made against the company by a contractor who had not completed their notice period, however still expected to be remitted for his Services in full. This was a clear contract breach and having completed the Contract Law & Civil Litigation modules early on in the Diploma, I was able to fully understand the court process, what elements of the case judges were likely to look at, what the civil litigation process was and what the various different tracks were and the differences between them. Before this, whilst I had a surface level understanding from looking back at previous cases, I’d not had full exposure to the process, and it had been very foreign to me. But doing those modules gave me the confidence to face the claims presented to me and my communications between clients and staff became stronger and more robust.
There were occasions where I was required to meet with Client’s solicitors or their in-house legal counsel, and during and after completing the course, I felt I had something to contribute and could be confident in doing so. It was very empowering. Other modules, such as Conveyancing and Marriages and Civil Partnerships and Succession were interesting too. Hopefully, those are routes I can look into in the future.
My role as a Contracts Assistant inspired me to complete this Diploma and to pursue my career. I was made redundant due to Covid-19 which was very unfortunate, but now I’m keen to explore other areas of law such as Conveyancing and Probate as possible career pathways. I know that essentially it is important to gain experience in these areas, but I am confident the knowledge I’ve gained from the Diploma will help.
However, whatever happens in the future, I am sure that my studies will not have gone to waste, and I’ll use the knowledge I gained in Contract Management as I progress. If I choose to explore other avenues of the law, I appreciate that sometimes you have to take a step down to take a step forward.
What I will say, is that if you’re thinking about studying NALP with Law Training Centre, do it! You’ll gain a great range of knowledge from experts and it’s a great starting point for whichever sector of law you get into. It provides a great overview of what there is out there, and Law is a fascinating subject. In my opinion, it’s a great opportunity and experience and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in giving it a go. There are lots of very expensive legal courses available that range from £5,000 to £8,000 and it’s a lot to spend if you’re like me, and have an interest in the subject, but aren’t sure if you’re ready to go all in. For me, I now know that this is something I would like to explore further.
Once you’ve studied the course, you’ll definitely know if it’s something you’d like to pursue. I’ve enjoyed my studies and the support I received. No question is too stupid (believe me, I asked). It’s been a great opportunity for me and once I realised I was doing well, my grades reflected my enjoyment for the course. I believe studying in your own time shows a real commitment to personal development and hopefully shows a potential employer your intention to further your career. A willingness to learn is a great attribute in a person. Once you complete the course, it’s very satisfying and feels like a fantastic achievement!